Sometimes ingredients you think are super-healthy can cause your dish to become unhealthy. If you love cooking, you’ll definitely want to read through this list.
Both coconut milk and oil can turn a dish into a calorie bomb. One cup of canned coconut milk contains a whopping 445 calories and 48 grams of fat, which is 74 percent of your daily recommended amount of total fat. Add a few cups to your soup and you jack up the calories and fat. So what about coconut oil? According to the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, coconut oil is categorized as a solid fat with high amounts of saturated fat and should be eaten sparingly.
When using: Choose light coconut milk, and use coconut oil in very small amounts.
Banana bread tastes so much better with walnuts, and who doesn’t like a nice mixture of nuts in trail mix? Think I’m nuts? Check out the calories. One ounce (or 14 halves) of walnuts contains 185 calories and 18 grams of fat. Add several ounces of crushed walnuts to your brownie batter — or grab a few handfuls to munch on — and you’re talking several hundred calories.
When using: Keep servings to 1/4 cup or less, depending on the recipe.
Dark Chocolate Chips
To make dishes healthier, many folks swap milk chocolate chips for dark chocolate chips. A heavy hand even of dark chocolate chips, however, can sabotage muffins, pancakes, waffles, and any other delicious treat, breakfast or snack you make with them.
When using: Use about 1/4 cup per batch for baking. If you want to up the chocolate, add unsweetened cocoa powder in addition to a small amount of dark chocolate chips.
This natural sugar contains a small amount of minerals, which makes it a better choice than other artificial sweeteners. Added sugar, however, is added sugar. The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than 10 percent of calories come from added sugar, which is 200 calories in a 2,000-calorie diet. One tablespoon of honey contains 64 calories and 74 grams of sugar. It doesn’t take more than several tablespoons of honey to reach that added-sugar maximum.
When using: Opt for 1 to 2 teaspoons per serving.
Traditional granola includes oats, oil, a sweetener, and flakes or crisps. Add-ins like dried fruit, coconut and nuts are now becoming more popular. On average, 1/4 cup of granola without nuts contains 100 calories, 2.5 grams of fat and 17 grams of carbohydrates. Pour 1/2 to 3/4 cup of granola over your oatmeal or Greek yogurt and you can be downing 200 to 300 calories from only granola.
When using: Get a delicious crunch by using 2 to 4 tablespoons per serving. If you need more volume, supplement with whole-grain cereal, which tends to have fewer calories per serving.
Add 1/4 cup of half-and-half to your morning cup of joe for an extra 79 calories and 7 grams of fat. That may not seem like a lot, but if you like a few cups of coffee throughout the day, the few extra calories start to become hundreds in one day. Now think about how many hundreds (or even thousands) of extra calories that is during one entire week.
When using: Add low-fat or nonfat milk to coffee throughout the day. Save the half-and-half for that all-important morning cup.
A bed of greens topped with vegetables is super-healthy — you can’t argue with that. Toss it in 1 cup of balsamic vinaigrette, though, and you add an additional 800 calories and 80 grams of fat! Even if the salad is made for four people, that’s still substantial: Each serving contains an additional 200 calories and 20 grams of fat.
When using: Vinaigrettes are made from healthy oils, but pour on a maximum of 2 tablespoons per person.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.